With the coronavirus breaking out a little more than a year ago, there are a lot of mixed opinions on the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. According to Medscape “how did the coronavirus outbreak start”, the coronavirus was initially reported to the World Health Organization on December 31, 2019. Then it was declared a global health emergency on January 30, 2020. Phase one trials of experimental vaccine for COVID-19 began mid March after going into lockdown and quarantine here in the US. About a year later we are hearing consistently that more people are now vaccinated.
Although there are a lot of people getting vaccinated, not everyone is eligible to receive this vaccine at the moment. Initially, only individuals over the age of 65 were able to get this vaccine. However, on March 1, 2021 the Santa Barbara Health Department expanded the eligibility to residents who work in Education and Childcare, Emergency services, food/grocery and agriculture workers. Then again on March 1, 2021 they expanded the eligibility to patients who are suffering from one or more health conditions since they are more highly risked and affected.
The Santa Barbara Unified School District sent employee vaccine updates saying they had 1,170 appointments for Tk-12 educational staff in Santa Barbara county and had 219 to Santa Barbara Unified. Obviously, not everyone could get the vaccine initially so there are some staff who were prioritized. The first group was the staff who work with groups who are medically fragile andwho aren’t able to wear masks or social distance. It can include people who have any disability. The second group was staff who are in contact with other people or are in between campuses, that includes people like food service workers or custodians. Another group included staff who are working in person with students. Lastly it’s the staff who aren’t in person.
As expected, when given the news of the vaccine, a lot of people had different opinions on it. Some people don’t think it’s a good idea because of how fast the vaccine was developed and approved and others are excited and are hoping everything will go back to normal as fast as possible. I interviewed a couple of the staff who were able to get the vaccine.
Starting with Brandon Teris, who teaches calligraphy here in Santa Barbara Senior High School. Mr. Teris had got the vaccine on March 5, 2021, when asked why he thinks the vaccine is important he stated that it’s important because it saves lives and could help him if he ever caught the virus. “I have asthma, so pre-vaccine I was worried about the long-term effects that the virus would have on me.” said Teris, which is a pretty common worry that a lot of people around me were having. He expressed that he does worry about the long lasting effects that this vaccine can bring since it’s a new vaccine that was created so quickly but is hopeful that this vaccine is a step closer to going back to normality and thinks everyone who can should take advantage of this vaccine. “Ultimately it is the decision of a person to get the vaccine, I think those who refuse might be slowing down the return to normalcy.” Mr. Teris told us a little bit about the process he had to go through but said it was a pretty quick process. “I made an appointment in Buellton, arrived, stood in line for about 20 minutes, and then got the shot. Pretty easy,” he stated. He did mention his arm was sore for a few days after and heard that friends experienced flu-like symptoms but it was overall an easy process.
Another person who I interviewed is Kristyne Hastie who has been teaching in person five days a week since October. Kristyne got her vaccine March 4, 2021 after receiving an email. Once her group was prioritized, she signed up and drove to Lompoc where she got vaccinated. “I instantly felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders!” She continues “Even just getting the first dose really improved my sense of security knowing that I don’t have to worry as much about getting sick, passing disease onto my vulnerable students or potentially having to quarantine and disrupting my students schedules. I feel a huge sense of relief.” Kristyne has previously expressed that her students were why she felt getting this vaccine is important saying “as a healthy person I feel it is my duty to be vaccinated and help keep others safe and healthy, especially those who cannot get vaccinated.” When I asked if she had any fears or worries about this vaccine she answered no and continued, “I know there is misinformation circulating on social media and such about the vaccine. This has unfortunately become commonplace. It is our responsibility as educated members of society to research and read primary source documents before coming to a conclusion or belief.” Although she says she believes this is a safe vaccine from her research she made a great point, “given my privilege as a young, white person with no pre-existing conditions, it is easy for me to say that the vaccine is safe and everyone should get it. I do not have the generational trauma of systemic racism and medical prejudice. I understand that cultural hesitancy around vaccination exists and better efforts need to be made to address this and make marginalized communities know that they are safe being vaccinated.” Kristyne continued to say she doesn’t believe everyone needs to get vaccinated but just enough to develop “herd immunity” in her words.
[Photo Credit: NPR]